A Better Stalk

When the morning light started to show in the windows I awoke. There was a strong argument to just stay in bed. After all there was no hurry to fish. A mist blanketed the valley floor hiding the trout stream and it promised to be a cool September day, with enough cloud cover to make for good fishing later. Then I got to thinking how good coffee tastes when you come off the stream, a stream which is just a few steps from the cabin. Arleen would call me on the walkie talkie when breakfast was ready and I would hike up the hill to a cup of freshly brewed black coffee that always tastes best after you've just stepped off a spring creek and your head is filled with fresh cool air.


Argument over, I was up, brushing teeth, slathering on sunblock, dragging on the waders and stringing the rod. I headed downstream to where the Lutheran Church stood next to the stream. Sure enough there was a pickup truck in the church parking lot. Was it the same truck that was parked there the night before? It must be. Someone must have just left it there. After all it was 7am. There's no way another fisherman could have beaten me to "my water".


I climbed over half rotted wooden stile with the familiar yellow Wisconsin DNR sign that read "public fishing". Before I got to the water I spotted him, the owner of the pickup truck walking downstream toward me out of the mist. He carried his fly rod low and was wearing thigh high wading boots, nothing like my high tech, destined to leak chest waders. So it wasn't the same truck from last night alfer all.


I try to stay clear of other fisherman on these small spring creeks and I felt like I was encroaching on his territory. So as a form of apology I asked "How's it going? Anything hatching?". I was referring the the trico mayflies that usually hatch this time of year.


"It's good. I landed a 17 inch brown", he said with a vague wave upstream with a faraway look in his washed out blue eyes. He was a trout fishing addict who'd just had a major fix. "This time of year the fish are gullible." he said, " I didn't see any hatch but this is what I'm using. It's kind of a terrestial that I've been working on for years. I use maribou feathers". He held up his hand tied lure on the end of his line. Usually in the flyfishing parlance terrestial means an insect, grasshopper, beetle or ant that somehow gets blown into the stream. His terrestial was obviously a mouse.


"Where have you been fishing?" I asked. He replied, "I started upstream of the second bridge and worked my way downstream." With that I knew he covered a lot of water and must have been out there for hours.


Downstream? I asked. My usual tactic for these waters is to work upstream and approach the fish from behind as they hold in the current.


"Yeah, I like to fish downstream. It makes for a better stalk." We chatted for a few minutes about fishing and work and how one was mich better than the other Finally he said, "I've got to get back home to do some chores." With that he wandered off in the direction of the church parking lot. It stuck that that just as my fishing day was beginning, his was ending. He'd been out since 3am casting his mouse into the darkness looking to land the biggest and most carnivorous of the denizen trout.


I've heard of, but never encountered, this type of insomniac trout fisher. One who eschews the hatch, the fly, the Orvis catalog and desires only the trophy, caught in the faint rumor of light that hints of approaching dawn.


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